We received these panels for free, to test out and review. We receive a small commission if you choose to purchase these panels through our link. It just helps to support us on the road, and DOES NOT affect how we review products.
It’s not every day, in a market that seems to be saturated by ever cheaper and cheaper products, that a company stands up and says that we want to go the other way, we want to be premium in price, quality and performance.
It was after we spent 8 nights at South Lefroy Bay, on the Ningaloo coast of Western Australia, in cloudy weather, that I started thinking about a better Solar Blanket for our setup, or a Generator!
We have heaps and heaps of solar on our truck, however the biggest drawback has been during the winter months, as the sun sits closer to the horizon, it reduces our peak charge down to less than half of our panels rated amount. We even tried driving the truck up a bank to sit it on an angle to get some more power from the panels!
At the time, we had a cheap Kings brand solar blanket, however trying to angle it towards the sun was a continual nightmare.
We reached out to the team at Bluetti, and a few other manufacturers, to run a test on some different styles of portable solar panels. Bluetti got back to us, and said they would be up for any challenge and that they were happy to compete with any other manufacturer out there. They provided us their 200W portable panel to test out.
Build quality – Outstanding, 10/10. Fabric and soft panel construction, with an extremely durable coating on the panels. The fabric is really hard wearing and the panels look attractive and very well built.
Design – These fold up into 4 medium sized panels, in a row, rather than the “blanket” style with 4-8 smaller panels. When folded, they are secured with 2 small press buckles which have held up to my abuse over the last few months. They also have a large plastic handle on one end, which makes carrying them a breeze.
The pocket on the back for cables is large enough for a 5m cable and a regulator, or 10m of cable, and also features water resistant zips.
The number one most important part of the design though isn’t the handle, or the pocket or the buckles, it’s the nifty (I would say essential) plastic stands on the back of the panels, which let’s you stand them up at 35-55?? Degrees, and face them towards the sun. I’ll get more into why these make such a difference in the Performance section.
Performance – Finding portable solar panels that perform anywhere near their “rated” capacity is like finding a $50 note in your pocket when you are doing the laundry! Rare, but exciting! These panels do an admirable job. My peak power out of them, using an MPPT regulator, has been 185W. Compare that to other, cheaper panels I’ve tested, and with some of them you are struggling to get 100W out of a 200W panel. (How is that not deceptive advertising????)
Along with the 185W peak that I have achieved with them, the stands, plus the surface coating on the panels, means that I have been able to get consistently high production using this panel, especially if I turn them once or twice a day towards the sun. In fact, until about 11am, this 200W panel puts out more because of it’s angle, than the 700W on the roof of our truck.
Price – There’s no getting around it, these are premium panels. They go for $750 AUD each, without a regulator.
After sales support – I haven’t experienced this myself, but after doing some research and digging around on the Net, it seems like they are really contactable and actively try to resolve any issues, which is about all you can ask!
These panels are also designed for the American audience, and are meant to be used with the companies ‘Solar Generator’ so they come with MC4 style connectors, instead of the more common in Australia, Anderson connectors. Also, there is no inbuilt or attached Solar Regulator, however this in my opinion is a better option than bundling a cheap PWM Regulator, as many manufacturers do.
Criticism – After a few months of using these daily, the only minor change I would make is possibly an extra leg on the panel that doesn’t have one. It doesn’t need it, but it would help the set stand up better on uneven ground.
In Summary, if you are after a great portable option, consider these, they are well built, produce more power than their cheaper competitors, are really rugged and look great.